Minnesota’s Rapidan Dam Experiences Partial Failure Amid Severe Flooding

Local officials said there are no plans for a mass evacuations despite the ‘imminent failure’ of the dam.
Minnesota’s Rapidan Dam Experiences Partial Failure Amid Severe Flooding
Onlookers take in the catastrophic damage to the Rapidan Dam site in Rapidan, Minn., Monday, June 24, 2024. Debris blocked the dam forcing the heavily backed up waters of the Blue Earth River to reroute along the bank nearest the Dam Store. (Casey Ek/The Free Press via AP)
Aldgra Fredly
Updated:
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The Rapidan Dam in Minnesota experienced “a partial failure” on Monday following heavy rain and severe flooding in the area, but there are no plans for a mass evacuation so far, according to local officials.

The Blue Earth County government stated in a Facebook post on Monday that the dam was still intact and “a portion of the river flow has diverted around the west side of the dam” while water continues to flow.

“Blue Earth County Public Works, Emergency Management and Sheriff’s Office staff continue to monitor the Rapidan Dam. There has been a partial failure on the west abutment,” it stated.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Minnesota River near Mankato on Monday, warning that heavy rainfall in recent days has caused large rises in area rivers.

The county warned in a Facebook post on Monday that the dam—constructed in 1910 for hydroelectricity generation—was in “imminent failure condition” as debris began accumulating on Sunday.

It stated that County Road 33 bridge and County Road 90 bridge were under close monitoring for debris and could be closed if conditions continued to deteriorate.

“We do not know if it will totally fail or if it will remain in place, however we determined it was necessary to issue this notification to advise downstream residents and the correct regulatory agencies and other local agencies,” it stated.

Local authorities have also notified residents, regulatory agencies, and other local agencies that could be affected by the imminent failure of the dam.

The county also acknowledged the growing public interest in the dam, saying that those interested in viewing it could park at the barricades on County Road 9 and walk on the shoulder behind a line of traffic cones for a closer look.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said that state agencies are in close contact with Blue Earth County and other local officials regarding the situation at the Rapidan Dam.

“Emergency management is on the ground and acting quickly to ensure the safety of Minnesotans as the situation develops,” the governor stated on X.

Flooding also closed state highways and county roads in southern Minnesota. Windom, a town of about 4,800 people, received 1.25 inches of rain on top of earlier heavy downpours, and the Des Moines River there had a record crest.

President Joe Biden signed a disaster declaration for Iowa on Monday, enabling federal funding to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and flooding.

In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem declared an emergency after the southeastern part of the state received heavy rainfall. The town of Canton, 30 miles southeast of Sioux Falls, has received 18 inches of rain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.